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Myths and Facts About Charitable Giving

4. My charitable donations are not large enough to make a difference.

Charities rely on your support and appreciate donations of any amount. Yet concentrating your charitable contributions can be a more effective way to give. Matthew J. Viola, senior program analyst at Charity Navigator, agrees that both large and small donations are appreciated by not-for-profit charities and recommends donors make a long-term commitment to support charities over time. Viola tells WebMD, “Charity Navigator suggests that instead of donating $10 to 10 charities, a donor should focus on a couple of charities and give each one of those a larger donation ($50 to two charities).”

No matter which charities you choose to support, small gifts from multiple donors add up, and they also provide charities with a broad base of support. This is particularly true when donors continue to give what they can afford year after year. 

5. Causes with active fundraising campaigns need my charitable donations the most.

While there is nothing wrong with supporting well-known causes, like cancer or AIDS research, many lesser-known causes may have an even greater need for charitable contributions. This is especially true when your charitable gifts support medical research, as rare medical conditions and diseases often have less funding.

McGowan often prefers to find deserving charities that support these lesser-known medical needs. “Sometimes the popular vogue does not match the highest need for funding at a given moment,” he says. “Hundreds of millions are funneled into research areas that are already well enough funded, while other critical-need areas are overlooked.”

6. If I donate money to charities, I will be put on several mailing lists.

Before making charitable contributions, ask organizations about their donor privacy policies. Some charities sell your contact information to mailing lists, and others do not. Charitable organizations may also offer a way for you to “opt-out” of receiving additional mailings.

To keep from being added to mailing lists, look for charities that offer written privacy policies and read the terms.  Many charities are happy to protect their donors’ private information.

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Reviewed on March 24, 2011

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